CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO: RESULTS AND CONSEQUENCES II
'Sirius?' Harri whispered. She just couldn't believe it.
Sirius stood leaning against Remus, smiling down at her, looking weak and worn, but smiling nonetheless.
'Sirius? How can you be here? I saw Bellatrix kill you! I was crying on your chest!'
'I'm afraid that I'm going to have to give you some credit for that. Bellatrix used a very dark spell on me that knocked me unconscious. It was killing me – I was only just alive when you were crying on me. All I really remember is being in pain, and hearing you crying and calling out my name. The next minute, the pain was leaving me. I thought that I was going die at any minute, but I was wrong. Everything became clearer and I felt your inconsiderable weight leave my chest and heard Remus calling out your name. I opened my eyes and saw you running out of the room. I saw Remus look at me and then my world went black,' Sirius explained.
'In other words, you fainted from exhaustion,' said Remus, grinning from ear to ear.
'No, my world went black. I did not faint, thank you very much!' argued Sirius.
Harri chuckled and tears began to fill her eyes.
'How?' she asked. No one needed her to explain what she meant.
Sirius unbuttoned his shirt and showed her a mark just above his heart, a mark that was in the same shape as…
'My pendant! My pendant healed you, didn't it?'
'Yes, that's what Draco believes it was.' Sirius shrugged, doing his shirt back up.
Harri couldn't wait any longer. She ran to Sirius and hugged him, not as tightly as she wanted to as she knew that would hurt him. Sirius put his own arms around her. Harri didn't know how long they stood there in each other's arms, but she did know that it wasn't long enough and she was very grumpy when her grandfather interrupted them.
'Harri, could I have a word with you in private please?'
Harri followed Albus out of the Great Hall and into his office.
'Thank goodness you're alright, little one,' said one of the Portraits as Harri and Albus entered the room.
'They have all been worrying desperately about you,' said Albus. 'As have I and the rest of your family and friends. He didn't hurt you in any way, did he?'
'No. He treated me like spun glass. He acted with care… and love.'
'Sweet heart, he doesn't know the meaning of the word. You are probably wondering why I wanted to talk to you in private. It has nothing to do with you being held hostage, however, it does have something to do with your Uncle Tom. What I'm trying to say is that I owe you an explanation for an old man's mistakes. For I see now that what I have and have not done in regards to you bears all the hallmarks of the failing of age. Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young… and I seem to have forgotten lately…'
Harri had no idea what her grandfather was talking about, but she let him continue without interrupting, hoping she would understand in the end.
'Fourteen years ago, when I saw the scar on your forehead I speculated about what it might mean. I guessed that it might be a sign of a connection forged between you and Voldemort.'
'You've told me this before, Grandfather,' Harri said bluntly. She didn't want to hear about it again.
'Yes, but it is necessary to start with your scar. It became apparent, shortly after you re-joined the magical world that I was correct and that your scar was giving you warnings when Voldemort was close to you, or feeling powerful emotion.'
'I know,' said Harri, wearily.
'And this ability of yours – to detect Voldemort's presence, even when he is disguised, and to know what he is feeling when his emotions are heightened – has grown exponentially since Voldemort returned to his own body and regained his full powers. More recently, I became concerned that Voldemort might realise that this connection between you exists. Sure enough, there came a time when you entered so far into his mind and thoughts that he sensed your presence. I am speaking, of course, of the night when you witnessed the attack on Mr Weasley.'
'Yeah, Uncle Sev told me,' muttered Harri.
'Did you not wonder why it was not I who explained this to you? Why I did not teach you Occlumency? Why I had not so much as looked at you for months?'
'Yeah, I wondered.'
'You see, I believed it could not be long before Voldemort attempted to force his way into your mind, to manipulate and misdirect your thoughts, and I was not eager to give him more incentive to do so. I knew that he was aware of our close relationship and I was sure that he would seize the chance to use you as a means to spy on me. I feared the possibility that he might try and possess you. Harri, I believe that I was right to think that Voldemort would have made use of you in such a way. On those rare occasions when we had close contact, I thought I saw a shadow of him stir behind your eyes. Voldemort's aim in possessing you would have been my destruction. So you see, I have been trying, in distancing myself from you, to protect you.'
Harri nodded in understanding and then went and sat in her grandfather's lap, resting her head on his shoulder.
'How did you know that I was at the Department of Mysteries, Grandfather?' Harri enquired. During her time at Voldemort's headquarters, she often thought about the Order members and how they had come to her rescue when she hadn't informed anyone of her whereabouts.
'When you and Hermione came out of the Forbidden Forest and then hopped onto those Thestrals, young Draco became worried about your safety and owled Sev. As soon as Sev read the letter, he became worried that Voldemort had shown you a vision. Naturally, he went to see what Tom was up to and Tom, believing that Sev could never betray him, told him of his plan and the vision he had sent you. After learning this, Sev rushed to the Order's Headquarters and told them of your situation. That is how Kingsley, Remus, Alastor, Sirius and Nymphadora all came to your rescue while Sev waited at the Headquarters to fill me in.'
'Sirius was at the Headquarters the whole time?' Harri's mouth became dry.
'Yes, it seems that Kreacher was involved in Voldemort's plan, and while Sirius was dealing with Buckbeak, the House-elf stayed in the kitchen in case you called so that he could lie to you.'
'How do you know this?'
'Before Sirius and the others left for the Ministry, Kreacher came downstairs laughing about you being at the Ministry and Sirius got the whole story out of the elf.'
Harri didn't know whether to feel sorry for Kreacher or not. After a period of silence, Albus came to a conclusion.
'Harri, it is time for me to tell you something that I should have told you five years ago. I ask for a little patience. You will have your chance to rage at me – to do whatever you like – when I have finished. I will not stop you.' When Harri nodded, Albus continued. 'Five years ago you arrived at Hogwarts, safe and whole, as I had planned and intended. Well – not quite whole. You had suffered. I knew you would when I left you on your aunt and uncle's doorstep. I knew I was condemning you to ten dark and difficult years.' He paused. 'You might ask – and with good reason – why it had to be so. Why didn't Rhiannon, Severus or Minerva and I take you in? My answer is that my priority was to keep you alive. You were in more danger than perhaps anyone but I realised. Voldemort had been vanquished hours before, but his supporters – many of them almost as terrible as he – were still at large, angry, desperate and violent. I had to make my decision with regard to the future as well. I was sure he would return, though I did not know when, and I was sure, too, of the fact that he would not rest until he killed you.
'I knew that Voldemort's knowledge of magic is perhaps more extensive than any wizard alive. I knew that even my most complex and powerful protective spells and charms were unlikely to be sufficient if he ever returned to full power. But I knew Voldemort's weakness. And so I made my decision. You would be protected by an ancient magic which he knows of and despises, of which he has always, therefore, underestimated – to his cost. I am speaking, of course, of the fact that your mother died to save you. She gave you a lingering protection he never expected, a protection that flows in your veins to this day. I put my trust, therefore, in your mother's blood and I delivered you to her sister, her only remaining blood relative.'
'She doesn't love me. She doesn't give a damn –'
'But she took you,' Albus cut across her. 'She may have taken you grudgingly, furiously, unwillingly, bitterly, yet still she took you, and in doing so, she sealed the charm I placed upon you. Your mother's sacrifice made the bond of blood the strongest shield I could give you.'
'So that's why I had to live with them? Despite have a family that loved me,' said Harri. 'I always wondered why. Now I know that it was the safest place for me and not because of the Blood Wards, but because those who wished me harm would have looked for me not in the Muggle World but with Gran, Uncle Sev and you and Grandmother.'
'Correct, but I have more to tell you. Five years ago you arrived at Hogwarts, neither as happy nor as well-nourished as I would have liked, perhaps, yet alive and healthy. You were not a pampered little princess, but as normal a girl as I could have hoped under the circumstances. Thus far, my plan was working well. And then… well, you no doubt remember the events of your first year at Hogwarts quite as clearly as I do. You rose magnificently to the challenge that faced you and sooner – much sooner – than I had anticipated, you found yourself face to face with Voldemort. You survived and you did more than just that. You delayed his return to full power and strength. You fought an adult's fight. I was prouder of you than I can say.
'Yet there was a flaw in this wonderful plan of mine. An obvious flaw that I knew, even then, might be the undoing of it all. And yet, knowing how important my plan succeeding was, I told myself that I would not permit this flaw to ruin it. I alone could prevent this, so I alone must be strong. And here was my first test, as you lay in the hospital wing, weak from your struggle with Voldemort.'
'I don't understand what you're saying,' said Harri.
'Don't you remember asking me, as you lay in your room, why Voldemort had tried to kill you when you were a baby?'
'As you know, I decided not to answer you. Eleven, I told myself, was much too young to know. I had never intended to tell you when you were eleven. The knowledge would be too much at such a young age. I should have recognised the danger signs then. I should have asked myself why I did not feel more disturbed that you had already asked me the question to which I knew, one day, I must give a terrible answer. I should have recognised that I was too happy to think that I did not have to do it on that particular day… you were too young, much too young.
'And so we entered your second year at Hogwarts. And once again you met challenges even grown wizards have never faced; once again you acquitted yourself beyond my wildest dreams. You did not ask me again, however, why Voldemort had left that mark on you. We discussed your scar, oh yes… we came very, very close to the subject. Why did I not tell you everything? Well, it seemed to me that twelve was, after all, hardly better than eleven to receive such information. I allowed you to leave my presence, bloodstained, exhausted but exhilarated, and if I felt a twinge of unease and thought that I ought, perhaps, to have told you then, it was swiftly silenced. You were still so young, you see, and I could not find it in myself to spoil that night of triumph… Do you see, Harri? Do you see the flaw in my brilliant plan now? I had fallen into the trap I had foreseen, that I had told myself I could avoid, that I must avoid.'
'I don't -'
'I care about you too much,' said Albus, simply. 'I cared more about your happiness than your knowing the truth, more for your peace of mind than my plan, more for your life than the lives that might be lost if the plan failed. In other words, I acted exactly as Voldemort expected, in the ways in which we fools who love choose to act.
'We entered your third year. I watched from afar as you struggled to repel Dementors, as you found Sirius, learned who and what he was and rescued him. Was I to tell you then, at the moment when you had triumphantly snatched your godfather from the jaws of the Ministry? But now, at the age of thirteen, my excuses were running out. Young you might be, but you had proven that you were exceptional. My conscience was uneasy, I knew the time must come soon… but you came out of the maze last year, having watched Cedric die, having escaped death so narrowly yourself… and I did not tell you, though I knew, now Voldemort had returned, I must do it soon. And now, I know you have long been ready for the knowledge I have kept from you for so long, because you have proved that I should have placed the burden upon you before this. My only defence is this: I have watched you struggling under more burdens than any student who has ever passed through this school and I could not bring myself to add another – the greatest one of all.'
'I still don't understand, Grandfather,' said a perplexed Harri.
'Voldemort tried to kill you when you were a child because of a prophecy made shortly before your birth. He knew the prophecy had been made, though he did not know its full contents. He set out to kill you when you were still a baby, believing he was fulfilling the terms of the prophecy. He discovered, to his cost, that he was mistaken, when the curse that was intended to kill you backfired. And so, since his return to his body, and particularly since your extraordinary escape from him last year, he has been determined to hear that prophecy in its entirety. This is the weapon he has been seeking so assiduously since his return: the knowledge of how to destroy you.'
'I don't know if that is still the case,' said Harri, thinking back to her time with Voldemort. 'But, the prophecy was smashed.'
'The thing that was smashed was merely the record of the prophecy kept by the Department of Mysteries. But the prophecy was made to somebody, and that person has the means of recalling it perfectly.'
'Who heard it?'
'I did. On a cold, wet night sixteen years ago, in a room above the bar at the Hog's Head inn. I had gone there to interview an applicant for the post of Divination teacher, though it was against my inclination to allow the subject of Divination to continue at all. The applicant, however, was the great-great-granddaughter of a very famous, very gifted Seer and I thought it common politeness to meet her. I was disappointed. It seemed to me that she had not a trace of the gift herself. I told her, courteously I hope, that I did not think she would be suitable for the post. I turned to leave.'
Albus, gently lifted Harri out of his lap so he could stand. He walked over to where he kept his Pensieve, motioning for Harri to join him. Once there, he showed her his memory of Sybil Trelawney making the prophecy.
'The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches… born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies… and the Dark Lord will mark her as his equal, but she will have power the Dark Lord knows not… and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives… the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies…'
Albus slowly drew a silent Harri back to his lap as they sat back down.
'It means that I'm the only person that has any chance of conquering Voldemort, doesn't it? That, in the end, I will have to end up killing him or him me?' asked Harri, dreading the answer.
'Yes, it does.'
'I can't. I don't think that I would be able to kill my own uncle. Why did this have to happen to me?'
'I afraid that I have no answer to that, but know this: your family and true friends will always support you.'
'I know, Grandfather, I know.'
-THE UNMASKED MYSTERY-
'I'm just glad you are back!' said Hermione.
Harri had just finished telling her friends about what had happened as they sat by the lake watching the sun set. Hermione had a book in front of her, Luna was reading the Quibbler, Ron and Neville were playing chess while Ginny watched, and Harri was lying in Draco's arms.
'I'm just glad that everything is back to normal, well, as normal as Hogwarts can get. What happened to Umbridge anyway?' Harri enquired, eyes closed.
'Albus went into the Forest by himself and freed her from the centaurs. He emerged unruffled,' replied Draco, sounding impressed, but then he hesitated and looked at the others.
'What aren't you telling me?' asked Harri, eyes still closed.
'We overheard Sev arguing with Albus the other night. Umbridge isn't going to be punished for what she did to you and the other students,' said Hermione.
'WHAT? What do you mean?' Harri demanded, sitting abruptly.
'You know your grandfather, he believes in second chances. He decided that Umbridge just needs to pay a fine, but Sev wasn't happy about it and at the end of the fight, Albus told Sev not to go and do anything… stupid.'
'I agree with Uncle Sev! She shouldn't be let off so lightly. Ha! A fine, what good will that do? That's like a little tap on the wrist!' Harri said angrily.
The others shrugged and she leant back into Draco's loving embrace, before she leaped back up.
'I forgot I've got my Astronomy test in five minutes!' Harri cried, before cursing in Parseltongue and running off towards the Astronomy Tower.
'She would forget her head if it wasn't screwed on,' said Ron, shaking his head.
'You can't talk! You'd do the same thing!' said Ginny, before looking over at Draco who stood up holding Harri's bag before walking into the sun, just holding it up next to him. 'Draco, what are you doing?'
The rest of the friends looked up at Draco, but they soon got their answer as Harri came running back towards them, taking the bag from Draco before running off again, making them all start laughing.
When Harri arrived home, she collapsed on the couch.
'How was your exam?' asked Severus, taking a seat next to her.
'Alright,' Harri sighed. She stared at Severus for a while. 'Why are you wearing a robe with the Dark Mark embroidered on it? Are you going to a meeting?'
'Yes and no. Your Uncle Tom would like you to be there.'
'Don't worry; he gave me his word that he would let you go. He said he has a… gift of sorts for you.'
'Do Grandfather and Grandmother know?'
Severus shook his head.
'Well, I trust you, so alright, I'll come,' said Harri, against her better judgement.
'Good. Get changed and make sure you bring a cloak that has a hood.'
Five minutes later, Severus and Harri were standing in a large hall decorated in dark colours, mostly green. The Slytherin's crest and the Dark Mark adorned the far wall side by side. Sitting on a throne, with the two crests above him, was Voldemort.
'I was very upset when you left, Harrietta,' said Voldemort. 'If you wanted to go home, you could have just asked. I will not keep my own niece as a prisoner, on one condition.'
'And what condition would that be?' Harri asked cautiously.
'I will explain later, but for now, I will explain why I have asked you here. Please, take a seat.' Voldemort held out his hand to Harri, who accepted it.
As soon as she accepted his hand, images flashed before her eyes:
She saw three children; two boys and a girl. They were all playing together outside Slytherin's castle, by the lake. The oldest boy had dark brown hair and blue eyes; the younger had black hair and hazel eyes, and the girl had black hair and emerald green eyes. A man came towards them, a group of people walking a few metres behind him. When the children caught sight of him and the approaching group, their smiles brightened. The oldest boy and girl ran past the man to the group of people behind him, while the youngest boy ran and jumped into his arms. The man looked like Tom Dumbledore.
'Are you alright?' asked Severus. She was lying on the ground, with both her uncles kneeling next to her. Both were clearly worried.
'Yeah, I'm fine. It was just a dizzy spell,' Harri said, sitting in the chair that Voldemort had conjured for her. 'What was it that you needed to talk to me about, Uncle Voldemort?'
'Sev told me about that Umbridge woman,' Voldemort said, getting straight to the point. 'He also told me that she was getting a light slap on the wrist as punishment. I don't believe that that is an appropriate punishment and neither does Sev. What do you think?'
'I believe that it is a lighter than warranted punishment. I also believe that sending her to Azkaban would be too harsh,' Harri replied, wondering why he was asking her this.
'What punishment would you choose to inflict?' continued Voldemort.
'Well, seeing as she used a Blood Quill on most of the students for hours on end, I think that it is only fair that she should be made to write lines too.'
'What would you say if I told you it was already happening?'
'What do you mean?'
'What my brother means is that Umbridge is currently writing lines using a Blood Quill. She has been for the past four hours, and she won't stop until five o'clock tomorrow morning,' answered Severus.
'Really? Can I see?'
Voldemort smiled, took her hand and lead her to the room next door, where she could see and hear Umbridge screaming and crying.
'You did this? For me?' Harri said, looking up at Voldemort.
Harri flung her arms around her uncle, hugging him for the first time in her life, catching him completely off guard. He awkwardly patted her back while Severus turned away to hide his laughter. When Harri realised just who she was hugging, she quickly let go, blushing.
'Um, what was the condition, about me coming and going as I please?' she asked, quickly changing the subject.
'You have to stay out of the war. I don't want to kill you, but I will if I need to. So, here's my proposal. You stay out of the war, stay neutral, and you can come and go as you please. However, if you choose the light side, you will become a prisoner here. What's your choice?'
Harri thought about it for a while. She would never stay out of the war, but Voldemort didn't need to know that. She would just make him believe that she was neutral.
'I'll stay neutral.'
'Very well. You'd better get to bed before your grandfather realises that you're missing. Goodnight, Harri.'
'Night,' said Harri, taking Severus' arm.
Once back at their quarters Harri turned to Severus.
'Uncle Sev, do you believe that there is still love in his heart?' questioned Harri, her vision still on her mind.
'My honest answer is yes. At least I hope so. Good night, sweet heart,' said Severus, leaving the room, probably heading back to Voldemort, and leaving Harri alone to her thoughts.
What was the vision that she had seen? Was there a chance that Voldemort still had love in his heart? Was there something that everyone was missing? These thoughts and more like them echoed in her mind until she fell into an uneasy sleep.
PLEASE REVIEW THE STORY!
STORIES IN SERIES:
-The Unmasked Mystery I [complete]
-The Unmasked Mystery II [now up]
-The Unmasked Mystery III
-The Unmasked Mystery IV
-The Unmasked Mystery V
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Written: 13 March 2011
Updated: 20 November 2012
DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT CLAIM OWNERSHIP OVER THE ORIGINAL COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL IN THIS STORY. THIS IS A NON-PROFIT FANDUB CREATED BY FANS, FOR FANS. NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED, FAIR USE ONLY. I DO, HOWEVER, CLAIM SOME COPYRIGHT OVER HARRI SINCE SHE IS HALF BASED ON MY ORIGINAL VALKYRIE CHARACTER, PRINCESS HARRIETTA.